A Delicate Balance

It’s a delicate balance, this living with lung cancer; between life and death, between treatment and quality of life, between disease and health.

It’s been said that we begin dying as we take our first breath, and we don’t know the hour or manner of our death. There is currently no cure for lung cancer. The best I can hope for is some time with NED (No Evidence of Disease), or at least no progression in the growth of the tumors in my lungs, lymph nodes, and liver, and no further metastasis. This disease may kill me, or not. I could die from something totally unrelated to lung cancer – getting hit by a meteor for example – or I could die from complications from the disease or from the treatment itself. Life is what we make it, and death comes to us all.

Quality of life will be different for each person. For me, it means having more good days than bad. It is having fewer days suffering the side effects than not. My new regimen has given me two bad days so far. Today is not bad at all, and the first day after treatment was good, so I’m batting better than .500 at the moment. And I won’t have another treatment for 2 1/2 weeks. So it’s looking good. Each person has to decide for herself what quality of life is acceptable and for how long. If I reach the point that I have more bad days than good, then my quality of life is suffering, and it will be time to reassess treatment vs. hospice care. But until that day comes, I intend to live my life as fully as I can.

Health is something I always took for granted, in spite of my bad habits in my younger days. I think we all feel invulnerable when we are young. We don’t think about unsafe behaviors, about dying, about chronic illness, about aging. We think we will live forever, even though in some part of our brain we know we won’t. Disease is an uncomfortable fact of life for many of us as we age. We are living longer these days, so more of us are suffering illnesses like diabetes, and high blood pressure, and heart disease, and various cancers. The pressures we live under for most of our lives has an effect on our health unless we learn to decompress at an early age. I didn’t know I was under so much pressure until I started seriously looking at my life and what I wanted it to be (somewhere back in my 40s – better late than never!).

So once again onward and upward. I will try to keep this delicate balance for as long as I can.

24 thoughts on “A Delicate Balance

  1. Everybody deserves a “quality of life” that makes them feel that it’s worthwhile waking up to each new day. For the longest time, suffering with severe depression for so much of my life, I knew what it was to live with a lack of quality of life, and each new day was such a burden to wake up to. I’m still not sure when exactly that changed, it was such a long journey getting out of the darkness and chaos of that hopelessness, but I’m well and truly on the life-and-light side of it all now and glad to be here, glad to wake up to a day that won’t necessarily be pain-free or perfect, but a day that I know now holds possibilities and good things to look forward to (even simple things like chocolate and facebooking with cherished friends). I don’t know what I would ever do if depression ever hit me that hard again that it would push me back into that darkness, I hope I now have all the tools and everything I need to prevent that from happening again. But I think that the loss of the quality of life that I cherish so much now would perhaps be the greatest loss of all. To know it and then to lose it would be too much to bear. Or maybe it would be incentive enough to do whatever it takes to get myself back there. I hope I never have to find out. And I hope that your quality of life will always be such that you are glad to wake up to a new day…I wish that for you with all my heart, and am always immeasurably grateful that you are here and living and breathing through another day. I love sharing life and light with you. More please 🙂 ❤

  2. Very much so, and our definition of it changes. Sometimes it takes another person’s perspective on it to wake us up to see with new eyes what we’ve had all along but didn’t notice.

  3. Iva Pokorny says:

    Ruth, Ruth .. ❤ ❤ ❤ You have a great strength. And I respect you very deeply. I mean it. Respect.

  4. Your point about decompressing is so important. I still remember the day I looked at someone responsible for shaping my professional development and answered his question — “What do you want?” — by saying, “I want to be ordinary.” It took a while to get there, but I’m about as ordinary as it gets these days. I’m convinced it’s part of my good health — along with working outdoors, in solitude. No office germs for me!

    Of course, tomorrow that bus called cancer could run me over, or any of another hundred things. If (when) it happens, what I’m learning here will be of great help.

  5. Ruth I wish you many for good days and fewer bad ones and I wish you strength for all you have to deal with. Your blog and your positivity is really helping me cope with this shitty disease. I had round 1 of chemo yesterday it took all day! I’m feeling OK at the moment and IF I can find some motivation I may even go into work later today. Onward and upward is such a good mantra, thank you, the phrase keeps popping into my head now and I think of you and how gracefully you are dealing with your challenges and it inspires me to try and find the good in each day. Love you. AJ (aka Janette)

  6. Ruth, your splendid and candid attitude is contagious. You give us all something to think about, and consider. I appreciate your frankness; it is so refreshing. I continue to wish all the best for you, and look forward to more of your words of wisdom.

  7. Thanks for your honesty in sharing this. We may know intellectually that nobody lives forever and that disease may be just around the corner, but that’s not the same as KNOWING it in a deeply personal way. I’m hoping and praying that your good days far outnumber the bad.

  8. You continue to inspire me with your words and positive outlook in a challenging situation.You touch many people.I am happy to know you are having more good days than bad right now.

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s